HG: Annie Payne Column January 31, 2009

How to handle the WINTER GLOOMIES

One week ago today marked the day considered by those who have the time and energy to figure these things out as the most depressing day of the year.

Apparently, by Jan. 24, bills from Christmas come due, people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions and winter temperatures are at their coldest.

So, if you were feeling inordinately crummy a week ago, there was a bona fide, scientifically-proven reason for it.

You are not alone. Many people feel like hibernating during the winter months.

Couple that instinct with economic woes and feeling lousy over another failed resolution, and you can find yourself with only enough motivation to keep your couch company while your dog gives you a foot bath.

Here are a few tips to get you and your household duties through what I call The Winter Gloomies:


I took this advice from cleaning guru “The Flylady” of Flylady.net.

Shuffling around in your slippers and bathrobe all morning won’t help you feel motivated to accomplish the tasks of the day. Flylady suggests dressing from head to toe each morning.

Being completely dressed will help you feel ready to work and help you fight the urge to crawl back into that warm bed.


I can do anything for 15 minutes, regardless of the unpleasantness of the task.

Whenever I have a household job I need to tackle, but can’t muster the motivation to get started, I set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work. When the timer goes off, I allow myself to stop what I am doing, even if I’m not finished.

But, more often than not, when the 15 minutes are up I have hit my stride, and I am willing to see my task to completion.

Using a timer is also a great motivator to help kids complete their chores. They love to try to “beat the clock.” My boys have cut their dishwasher unloading time down to an Olympic-worthy three minutes!

I believe in this advice so much, that I actually give timers as gifts to friends and family.


Give your DVR a rest for the evening and use the commercial breaks to tidy up.

You’ll find that by the time American Idol is over, you’ve managed to straighten your family room, sweep and mop the kitchen floor and fold a couple of loads of laundry.


Even when the temperatures are cold, western Colorado is blessed with lots of sunshine.

Exposure to sunlight helps the body keep higher levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps a person have a sense of well-being. So, open your drapes and blinds to fill your home with natural light during the day.

Set yourself and your ironing board up in a sunny spot and iron those winter blues away.


Yes. You read that right. Don’t clean your garage. Don’t clean out your closet. Don’t start any home improvement projects.

Just like hibernation is a natural state, so is the renewal of energy that comes with spring.

Save the big jobs for when the bulbs bloom.

Instead of a big project, try a little one such as organizing your cupboards, refolding the sheets in your linen closet or changing out the accessories in your bathroom.

I just recently bought new pictures and towels for my guest bathroom. The little effort I made to spruce up that room motivated me to take on other projects.


If the Winter Gloomies have such a hold on you that you can only manage to do the bare minimum of household chores, focus on the bathroom and kitchen.

Keeping these rooms clean will help you to stay healthy. The last thing you need on top of everything else is the flu.


Give yourself something to look forward to by planning a vacation.

Perhaps looking at warm, sunny beach destinations online will not only help you beat the blues, but help you renew your weight-loss resolutions and deter you from finishing off that calorie-laden seven-layer dip from your Super Bowl party.


Take your tootsies from “looking Minnesota to feeling California.”

It may not be flip-flop weather, yet, but your toes don’t know that. Get a pedicure in bold and bright summer colors.

Don’t worry about clashing with your winter wardrobe, nobody will see them under your woolen socks and boots, but you’ll know they’re there.

In the immortal words of the early ’90s icons Wilson Phillips, “... hold on for one more day ... things will go your way.”

You may feel down, irritable and unmotivated now, but the very first whisperings of spring are literally just days away.

Don’t make any major decisions. Don’t take on any big tasks. Just white-knuckle it through the last dark days of winter.

You will see that when the bees start “a buzzing” and the birds start “a singing,” you will too.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at Anniethology.blogspot.com.



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